Swim championship makes a splash

By Gus Bode

Karisa Franz, 10, top, and Claire Lin, 10, bottom, compete in a 200 meter individual medley at the 2011 Ozark Long Corse Championship Saturday at the Recreation Center. The three-day competition brought in nearly 400 swimmers from southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. – Lynnette Oostmeyer| Daily Egyptian

To cap off the summer season, the Saluki Swim Club, Parkway Swim Club and Ozark Swimming hosted regional long-course championships at the Edward J. Shea Natatorium July 29-31.

Swimmers had to be a member of a swim club in the region and under 18 years old. Preliminary races were held each morning, and the top 16 swimmers of each age group went on to compete for placement in the finals.

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“It’s one of the pinnacle meets for their age,” said Jay Newton, Saluki Swim Club head coach and executive director.

This is a meet you try to go to to qualify for the sectionals, which we actually went to last week with a couple kids in Columbia, Mo.”

Newton, who also acted as the event’s meet director, said there were nearly 400 kids competing throughout the weekend. This included kids from southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and outlying areas. Newton said each of the kids had to achieve qualifying times in order to swim at the event.

“At this meet we had anywhere from … 8- or 9-year-olds all the way to kids that may be home from college swimming with their club this summer.”

Although the Saluki Swim Club, a non-profit sports organization, has no direct affiliation with SIUC, Newton said it helps with accommodations by allowing the club to use the university’s facilities.

“We’re very, very lucky to have the kind of facilities that we do, and the university is willing to work with us and support these kids,” Newton said.

Newton said due to the great deal of preparation and maintenance involved, this type of meet would not be feasible without volunteers.

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“All the officials in swimming are volunteers. They’re not paid … they come and volunteer their time all weekend,” said Newton. “It’s a great sport, but it takes a lot of people to volunteer to do it.”

Ryan Hall, 17, of Herrin, said his relationship with swimming began when he joined a competitive swimming program as a kid.

“I started with Herrin Tigershark summer league, and after the second summer I came here and swam a couple years. I really liked it,” he said.

Hall said training is important to be successful at meets like this. He said he uses campus pools to make sure his technique is as good as it can be.

“I just come in and swim everyday and just work on all the strokes,” Hall said. “We have different sets and intervals … and I just swim fast.”

Camille Davis, 17, of Goreville, said she has been putting waves in the pool since she was only about 180-days-old.

“My mom started me with ‘mommy and me’ classes at 6 months old, and I just took lessons and escalated up the levels,” said Davis.

Davis said the club has been training since spring and she is thrilled with the progress they’ve made.

“We train all summer long. We start training in the middle of April for this meet now,” Davis said. “They’re all doing good. Everyone is dropping time. We’re all making finals … so that’s exciting.”

Although the club currently has no one competing at the national level, Newton said this is the next step for his kids and he believes it will happen soon enough.

“Right now, we don’t have anybody there yet, but we’re really close to having a couple kids to be competing at the 18 and under nationals,” Newton said. “Maybe next year. We’re getting close.”

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